Year in Review: A Remarkable Inaugural Moment

BY Gwen Ifill  December 31, 2009 at 1:24 PM EST

As the new year approaches, the Rundown asked NewsHour correspondents to reflect on memorable reporting moments from 2009.

Thinking back over a year of covering auto and bank bailouts, financial scams, uprisings and wars, and political fits and starts, I still think the most remarkable interview I conducted in 2009 may have been one of the first.

On Inauguration Day, I was dispatched to the freezing National Mall to capture the voices of some of the millions of people who had descended on Washington to witness the start of the new administration. There I met Eugenia Peete, who was in town from Oklahoma, wrapped head to toe against the cold. She was sobbing as the president took his oath. She said they were “happy tears.”

“I’ve been crying all day,” she told us. “When I first walked up here I cried cause it was cold. And then … the ceremony. … It was just so emotional for me. I have a little boy. He can do whatever he wants to do. He doesn’t have to be a just a rap star, or a basketball player. … Thank God I could be a part of this.”

Eugenia Peete made my day that day, reminding me that — politics aside — this day was special for some folks for reasons that had nothing to do with health care reform or troubled assets. Unless, of course, we consider our children to be troubled assets.

Tune in to Thursday’s NewsHour, when Gwen Ifill will moderate a discussion with reporters and historians on the decade in politics.